Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Coastal Adventure at Changi Beach Park 120109

First day of the new semester, and also a new adventure! Headed down to Changi Beach in the early evening after school where an adventure was waiting to unfold...

The wind was unusually strong that evening, blustery even. The gusts buffeted the sea, causing the waves to roll rapidly inward.

As it was low tide, there were quite a number of people out combing the intertidal area for shellfish and other marine organisms. It was disheartening to see such an activity going on as both marine flora and fauna suffer in the end. Perhaps such beach-combing activities are important in ways (which I'm not aware of/I can't understand) to the people who engage in them.

A venus clam (Family Veneridae)! It is a bivalve (bi: two, valve: referring to one half of the shell) and are common on the rocky shore.

On a brighter note, it seems that the marine life at Changi is still thriving. Let's hope it remains that way. One of the first organisms we sighted was a peacock anemone (Cerianthus sp.) with a slightly fluorescent yellow tinge to it.

These anemones are aptly named as they come in a variety of colours! They are pretty safe to touch (but if not sure, never touch an organism if you don't know whether it's poisonous or not!) and their waving tentacles (resembles hair, don't you think?) impart a curiously sticky and mildly stinging feel.

These are egg cases deposited by some marine organism (I have no idea what). Edit: They're actually eggs laid by a Spiral Melongena (Pugilina cochlidium) - a kind of large snail - as pointed out by Zelin and Ria. Thanks!

Hermit crabs are common along the shores of Singapore, and Changi beach is no exception. The species of hermit crabs vary, but one thing doesn't change: these crustaceans use an empty shell as their 'house'. It may appear tough with its sharp-looking pincers, but its abdomen is long and soft, necessitating the need for an adopted protective cover. Edit: This may be a striped hermit crab (Clibanarius sp.) as suggested by Zelin. [Refer to Ron's comment]

Marine snails are common sight along the shore. They are closely related to their terrestial counterparts but have a much greater diversity.

Everytime I see a sea urchin, I can't help but be reminded of sea urchin sushi. Finally tried it a couple of weeks ago. Let's just say that I won't be eating any again soon. Anyway, that's a Black Sea Urchin (Temnopleurus toreumaticus) in the photo.

Just a stone's throw away from the sea urchin was a sea cucumber. The sea cucumber didn't look healthy at all. In fact, it kind of looked like pitted styrofoam. Sigh... I wonder if it'll recover.

Other sea cucumbers seemed to be doing well though. Saw a lot of this Thorny Sea Cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis) hiding under seaweed, on rocks, etc. Their pinkish-red and green colouration brings to mind the ice cream that my sister likes..some pear and strawberry flavour, I think. Edit: It suddenly came to mind while I was doing my microbiology lab report..the ice cream is 'Twister' by Walls! And I think I've got the flavours wrong..unless they did have limited edition flavours at one point in time. Lol.

And, yes, another sea cucumber! This one is an Orange Sea Cucumber (Family Cucumariidae).

This is likely a Purple Sea Cucumber, also of the Cucumariidae family. If you think it looks unhealthy, well, it probably is. Healthy individuals are of a brighter hue.
At this part of the Changi Beach, we had quite a few sea star surprises. After walking a couple of paces, we came across this Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber).

The underside of the Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber).

Another Thorny Sea Cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis), visible among the marine flora.

Here's the stressed out Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber) from an earlier post.

This curious-looking ball-shaped organism possibly is a sea cucumber, as suggested by Kok Sheng during the trip. Edit: (refer to comment) KS says that this might be a sponge instead!

This small pool of water had something very strange going on in it! Beneath the surface of the sand, down from some unknown depth, something caused a very bizarre 'bubbling' effect. It's sort of how water is bubbling vigorously when at boiling point..except that it's sand.

Maybe this video will give you a better idea! Do ignore the running commentary though. There was no crab!

Really happy to have been able to see so many different kinds of sea stars that day! From left to right: unidentified sea star (possibly a Cake Sea Star - Anthenea aspera - as suggested by KS in his blog), Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber) and Spiny Sea Star (Gymnanthenea laevis).

You may have been puzzling over the different appearances of the Biscuit Sea Stars (Goniodiscaster scaber). The reason is simple: the above is a juvenile!

Yet another Thorny Sea Cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis)! They really were everywhere, adding a bright tinge of colour to the seashore.

Always look on the bright side of life :) Btw, I'm not condoning littering!

As the Sun dipped lower and lower in the horizon, we knew that our adventures for the day were coming to a close...

...no matter, for being treated to the sight of a beautiful sunset was the perfect way to end the day :)

Many thanks to Kok Sheng for details on the marine creatures and also to wildsingapore by Ria Tan for the great database!


  1. Hey Hen, actually the yellow ball looking creature might be a sponge instead of a sea cucumber. :-)

  2. The orange striped hermit crab is Clibanarius infraspinatus. Note that if u c a blue striped one, it's of a different species.